Hi! Happy Friday! I hope this week has been good for you and you were able to squeeze in some quilting. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you saw that I am working on a project that has small blocks, specifically 3 1/2″. To make these blocks and have them measure accurately when I am done, I have some favorite tools I keep by my machine.
First up are my tiny ruler and scissors.
Every one needs scissors at the machine to clip threads, but I have been known to use the tip of the scissors as a stylus to hold down seams as I chain piece. The mini ruler is for me to check that the seams are 1/4″. This is especially important on small blocks because an error in the seam allowance will really show.
To keep these items corralled at my machine so they don’t get in the way while I’m stitching, I use a really common household item: a Command hook!
Stuck to my machine on the right side (since I am right handed), it’s a great place to hang my little supplies!
Since these small blocks I am making are scrappy and can not be made by making long strip sets and then cutting them apart, my next tool I like using is my wooden pressing stick:
I use this tool to press the many seams that need pressing while piecing these small blocks. Since there are a lot of seams to press between each stitching, I don’t want to have to jump up to the ironing board for every one. So, here’s how it works:
Here are my three 1″ squares stitched together to begin my nine-patch:
And now I use my pressing stick:
And here you go this pressed row of squares ready to join to the next without the iron:
This allows me to make all the nine-patches in one sitting, then I can get up and press them at my ironing board.
Although it wouldn’t hurt to get up and down from the machine to iron each seam…. when you’re making tiny blocks like these, you can get tired really fast! I still have to get up and press all the blocks when they’re finished, so I don’t lose out on my exercise!
Here are some of the other small blocks I was making this week. The flying geese are 1 1/2 x 2 1/2″ and these stars are 3 1/2″. They were really fun to make!
Let me know in the comments here on the blog what are some of your “can’t live with out” tools when you are quilting. I will enter you in a drawing for my newest pattern Twilight Desert and a surprise gift! The drawing will be on Tuesday, September 4th. Good luck! ****We have a winner! Congrats, Karen Shurts!*****
Here’s the give-away pattern:
Diane Dixon says
I also like making small quilts. I have a small iron right next to me so I can press as I go then give it a good pressing when the blocks are done with the regular iron. I love the colors of the one you’re working on now!
Good idea. I don’t have one of those small irons. Those are handy!
Debbie Ford says
I have just started making small quilts. I love your ideas on how to make it easier. I have my iron next to me so there isn’t much up and down. Which I did before I moved iron closer.
Jane Busby says
I love small quilts!! I use the same tools you do and love the wooden pressing tool. (My Father in law actually made mine!) My granddaughter is 5 and loves to sew! Not small pieces yet, but she can sew a very accurate 1/4seam!!!
So great you are teaching your granddaughter to quilt!
Jane Busby says
I am very excited that she is interested!!
Debbie kelly says
How wonderful my 5 yr old granddaughter loves hand stitching things …she is always doing a running stitch on something cant wait till maybe can teach a little sewing to her ..when she gets receptive enough
Sheri Lesh says
I had my dad make me a board with slices part way through, so my small rulers are standing up and I get get a bunch of them in a small space and they are easy to grab. I love that ruler holder. I also keep my scissors are a command hook on my sewing machine. I also have a flower frog…..with the holes in it and I keep my favorite marking tools standing up in it.
The flower frog is a great idea for the marking tools!
Debbie kelly says
I agree never thought of that one….i like my mini iron for pressing applique….i also love my karen kay buckley scissors so sharp n the 3 inch are great for small snips
Nanette Chopin says
I have a carousel for scissors, etc at my sewing desk. I love making the 3 1/2″ blocks and all reproduction quilts. My husband made me a pressing tool, but I do tend to get up and press – good exercise! I love your new pattern!
Yeah…. the exercise is a good reason to get up. 🙂
Janet Gluesenkamp says
My small ruler is essential for tiny blocks.
They are great aren’t they?
Judith Urban says
Small rulers, pins, books on small quilts and time!
Time! Very important!
Nanette Chopin Cook says
If I may ask before I purchase the pattern, what is the finished size of the blocks for Twilight Desert? They look like a finished 6 but not sure. I prefer small blocks.
Yes, those blocks are finished 6″
Joni Giancola says
My can’t live without tool is a sharp rotary cutter. I’m not like my grandma who used cardboard templates, a pencil and scissors….
Rotary cutter is definitely a must!
Gail E says
Great suggestions! I also keep a small iron and small pressing board near me while I piece.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been sewing smaller projects. These are what I find helpful-I have a tv table set up beside my sewing machine with The Strip Stick for pressing seams open plus a wool pressing mat. I definitely will use your idea of the command hook, I’m all the time forgetting where I put my Kai small scissors! I use them the same as you!
A little TV table is an excellent idea. I need to try that because my sewing area is small.
Karen Shurts says
I also seem to be hooked on tiny blocks! Currently working on 4×5” blocks and an EPP Dear Jane quilt. I like to keep cutter & mini cutting mat near machine when piecing teenies!
It’s good to have the cutter near you at the machine, especially if you are doing scrappy!
My seam ripper with a molded handle to hold the ripper on one end and the pointer on the other. I found it at a craft sale. It fits my hand so well, so as I unsew – I am ripping in style.
Debbie kelly says
I don’t think I’ve seen this tool is it like permanently mounted so you can use your seam ripper and just run the thread that you want cut through it